General lighthouse authority

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A general lighthouse authority (GLA) is a dedicated government agency of a country or nation tasked with and responsible for the provision and maintenance of lighthouses, lightvessels, navigational aids and any other equipment or facilities which ensure the safety of mariners and sailors navigating the country's territorial waters, seas or oceans.

A GLA should not be confused with the coast guard, who also are responsible for and concerned with the safety of mariners and sailors at sea, but which have a slightly different role. In many countries therefore the general lighthouse authority is separate from (but works closely with) the coast guard. Conversely in some countries the coastguard is the general lighthouse authority.

Local lighthouse authorities[edit]

A local lighthouse authority (LLA) may be a port, harbour or other responsible authority which provides local navigational aids and/or lighthouses as part of its facilities.

A local lighthouse authority however will ultimately subscribe to the general lighthouse authority's policy on the correct maintenance and provision of such equipment.

Relationship between local and general lighthouse authorities[edit]

Most ports and harbours authorities around the world operate their own local navigational aids to help mariners enter or exit the port safely. As such ports and harbours become local lighthouse authorities (LLA).

Any navigational aids supplied by a LLA are normally inspected by the GLA to ensure they meet internationally agreed standards and codes.

National light[edit]

A national light is a lighthouse, lightvessel or other visual aid, visible at night, which has been provided and maintained by a governmental department or agency known as a general lighthouse authority for the purposes of navigation at sea and maritime safety.

National lights are so called because they are provided by a nation's government and may form part of a network of lighthouses protecting the country's coastline.

British Isles[edit]

There are three general lighthouse authorities responsible for providing coastal aids to navigation around the British Isles:

The powers of Trinity House and the Northern Lighthouse Board are established in the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.[1] These include the inspection of aids to navigation provided by local lighthouse authorities, and the levying of light dues on vessels to fund their work.


  1. ^ "Lighthouses". The National Archives. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 

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